/ Health

What happened to Optical Express’ ‘lifetime’ guarantee?

Eye

Were you offered ‘lifetime aftercare’ before agreeing to laser eye surgery with Optical Express? The campaigner Sasha Rodoy shares stories from hundreds of patients who say this has now turned into ’12 month aftercare’…

Since 2012, both as campaigner and patient advocate, I have spoken with thousands of people wanting advice or help following laser eye surgery.

Over the last few weeks hundreds of Optical Express patients have contacted me, left in shock after trying to book appointments only to be told that they will no longer receive free aftercare of any description. Each of them have told me that they were offered either free ‘lifetime’ or ‘unlimited’ aftercare. And I’m sure there are thousands more to come when they discover this change in policy.

Free lifetime aftercare

Neil told me:

‘We have just been told that my wife will now be required to pay for eye tests and products by Optical Express. We were told when we signed up for the treatment in Nov 2013 that we were not to worry as the treatment was covered by their Free Lifetime Aftercare Guarantee and so far they have honoured this for the past 2 years and 5 months.’

Paul has also suffered:

‘After surgery in 2012 I cannot see at night or in low light. Optical Express prescribed pilocarpine which allowed me to drive and commute to work, but now they have told me they will no longer supply this. Without help I am really at my wits end, it is affecting me mentally and has affected my marriage. I have become a recluse suffering from eye strain and headaches dreading not being able to see when dusk comes.’

Optical Express responds

An Optical Express spokesperson said last week:

‘For a period of time in 2009 we offered free lifetime aftercare to our laser eye surgery patients. As technology developed and the procedure became even more successful, it became clear to our Medical Advisors that the vast majority of patients only required aftercare in the early stages following their surgery. In October 2009, we changed our terms and conditions to offer 12 months of free aftercare instead.’

However, there is too much anecdotal evidence that a promise of lifetime aftercare was the reason many people chose to get laser eye survey with Optical Express. People like Hannah:

‘I had laser eye surgery with Optical Express three years ago and was promised FREE lifetime aftercare. However I’m now being told that I have to pay £50 for an eye test? Optical Express claim that it’s in my terms and conditions that my free aftercare is only for two years. However I was promised FREE eye care after surgery for LIFE!’

Laser eye surgery T&Cs

Although Optical Express claims that the need for long-term aftercare is small, what about those who do need aftercare beyond 12 months? Let alone the fact that so many people have said they were sold ‘lifetime’ aftercare after October 2009.

Some of the people who have received free aftercare far beyond 12 months post op are now apparently being told that this was a ‘goodwill gesture’.

In fact, I have a number of different versions of Optical Express’ T&Cs. A November 2014 copy states that there will be free aftercare consultations for 24 months, and a July 2013 copy states 36 months. Therefore, free ’12 month’ aftercare doesn’t seem to be the standard since 2009. Some patients have said they weren’t ever given T&Cs, and when they’ve asked Optical Express for a copy of them they have been asked to pay anywhere from £10-50 for them.

If Optical Express refuse aftercare then it falls on the NHS to do so – in fact I’ve heard from a number of patients who have had to go to their GP for medication, and referrals for reparative surgery.

Did you get laser eye surgery with Optical Express? Were you promised free ‘lifetime’ or ‘unlimited’ aftercare? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. And if you have a copy of your terms and conditions, please send to the Which? Conversation team at conversation.comments@which.co.uk

This is a guest contribution by Sasha Rodoy. All opinions are her own, not necessarily those of Which?

Comments

Just rang optical express for an aftercare appointment. I was told that this will now cost £50! I had my laser eye surgery done in 2006 and have had free aftercare appointments for the past 9 years apparantly these were all just good will gestures. I was told I had lifetime cover. Absolutely disgusted that this company can get away with this completely dishonest and fraudulent behaviour!

Adam Dye says:
16 December 2016

I had my eye laser treatment in 2009 I rang them a few months ago as I noticed my vision was very blurry to be told I’m not covered and there’s no aftercare but the day I spent a lot of money it was made clear to me I have a lifetime aftercare that they would put my eyes right. Also my family members and friends have had there eyes laser and it reverted back to before so beware it’s a scam when they say lifetime it lasts for a couple of years!

Yes I was told free aftercare for life and now Im getting poor vision in my left eye and Ive been told I have to pay for a consultation and any subsequent correction procedure. Ive been conned too!

I had my surgery carried out in July 2010. Ever since then I had free yearly check-ups and also as my eyes got quite dry after surgery, I also received free eye drops whenever I needed them.
The surgery was expensive but finely after seeing a consultant at the Trafford centre, in Manchester, the free life time after care, sold it to me. I asked the gent twice and clearly and got him to confirm, that it was free for a lifetime, he replied that it was and look at how much eye tests costs and you add it up, it makes the surgery excellent value.
My night vision has never been the same and I was told it would improve in time. I’m still waiting for it to improve !
The surgery was amazing and to that I’m grateful.
But where do I go from here ?
If we all got together – could we sue?
I don’t know.
This is disgusting that a large company can get away with it, knowing that people like myself, won’t have the knowledge on how we would pursue this………

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We all need to get together make a page to complain also petition and get it on GMTV

2017 Campaign for Which? … ??

Seems very straightforward with plenty of evidence available.

My husband got his surgery in 2010. He was also sold lifetime cover and has noticed a little blurryness so called to make an appointment and they want 50 quid!

I have emailed the details.
I still have the marketing brochure which clearly says FREE eye tests for life. I have now been told I have to pay £50 for eye tests. Surely they can’t get away with this?

Well if Which? cannot manage to fight this battle then I suggest everyone gets in touch with Sasha Rodoy at her site which has been fighting against Optical Express created problems for some years.

Interesting when you think who gets awarded gongs that nobody suggests worthy crusaders like Sasha. BTW I have not had laser surgery so I am not an affected customer. I think funding will be required and raising a few grand for a brief may be on the cards.

The promises contained in the leaflet would seem to indicate a very good case can be made. Generally speaking I think life-time guarantees need to asset-backed or not offered as an inducement at all.

Shutting down a company is a useful way for Directors to evade promises made.

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I think you protest too much on Which?’s behalf Duncan. They have subscribers money and a mandate to make us powerful and this looks about the most blatant case you will ever see of broken undertakings.

Believe me organising a legal case , and organising people is terrifically difficult and actually I do not wish it upon Sasha as she probably deserves a break by now.

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£50 for and eye test which should be free?…. November 2014 signed up to Lasek Laser Eye Surgery with Optical Express. One of the main things that sold it for me was the cost saving on Free eye tests for life… or now what they say is eye tests for 12 months following your surgery! Checking the October 2014 Terms and Conditions it still mentions the “free eye test for life”. After ringing up to contest this at the local optical express they gave us the number for appointments at Head Office who told us exactly the same thing. That the free eye test for life had expired?! I don’t get how they can riddle out of this when it is written down on my consent documentation!

I too had surgery in October 2010, I too was told free eye tests and after care for life.
Have had a couple of appointments since 2010, where they have tested and checked my eyes.
I was also told probably, mainly dry eye.
But the appointments and the eye drops was all free.
I now get like a film over my eyes, and vision is reduced unless I blink very hard and open my eyes wide.
Then I can see better for a few seconds,
Got in touch with them today, and they saying they was £50 to check my eyes.
Maybe the BBC WATCHDOG would be interested in this one.
Happy to sign any petitions anyone has started.
James

Sarah says:
19 August 2017

Hi, just read your comment and I’m suffering with exactly the same symptoms as you have mentioned rang Optical Express to be told I had to pay for everything now which is disgusting . Is there any news on where we go to get help with this matter ?

Like everybody else on this forum, I was promised aftercare and free eye tests for life. I have had several eye tests since my operation in Nov 2009 and never been asked to pay for them until I have just phoned them requesting an appointment. They even have the cheek to say that I have to pay upfront at the time of booking!

I have had several email correspondence from Optical Express saying that “If you do benefit from free lifetime aftercare, and have complied with the terms and conditions surrounding this, we will be happy to honour this, and will ensure that this is noted on your file for future reference.”

I can’t find my T&C’s, so I have requested a signed copy of these from them. I have no doubt that as they never fully explained the terms of this free aftercare then there will be some technical reason that I haven’t complied with anyway so will be no better off.

I am utterly disappointed that they seem to have made false promises which majorly affected my decision to have the surgery in the first place. Didn’t the banks do something similar with PPI?? I have all my finance documents from the 0% finance they did with Hitachi finance in 2009, is it not worth pursuing a refund through this agreement?

Had my Lasik/iDesign surgery in February 2015 and was told I had free aftercare for life (eye tests, drops etc.) as well as a 10 year guarantee on the actual surgery which included enhancements if my sight deteriorated at all. I had all my aftercare check ups after the surgery, a six month check up and then my first year check up January 2016. I rang them to book my next yearly check up and was informed it would cost £50! I said that when I got my laser treatment my T&Cs said I’d get free aftercare for life but was told that was no longer being offered. My eyes are starting to deteriorate now (was planning to inform them of this / confirm it in my eye test appointment) and I am worried I won’t get my free enhancement now.

Elaine says:
19 January 2017

I just had my eyes tested at Spec Savers after being told it would cost me £50 at optical express. I have my eyes done with Optical Express in 2012 (intralase wavefront – £3500). I was certain I was told I had free lifetime aftercare as it had put me at ease, but now they are saying it was only 3 years. My right eye has deteriorated to 1.25 and spec savers say I could do with glasses for night time driving/concerts etc.

Has anyone paid for a repeat surgery with Optical Express? The woman on the phone said it was at a much reduced price but wouldn’t give me any more detail.

Seems i’m not alone on this issue! I was defiantly told I would have a lifetime guarantee of aftercare. I called up to book a check up yesterday an was informed it would cost £50.

I had my surgery in may 2013 and have always highly recommended it, however I feel my eyes have deteriorated recently and so wanted a check up. If its in the T&C or not surly this is false advertising. I will simply go else were on principle and of course not recommend anyone to optical express in future.

Emma Toyne says:
26 January 2017

I had the surgery in September 2011, again, was promised the free lifetime guarantee but have now been told that that was never the case. I chose to have the surgery with Optical Express rather than other providers because of this guarantee. Extremely disappointed with Optical Express for their blatant dishonesty.

I like many others had eye laser surgery with optical express back in 2008, since then I have received eye drops and medication and a total of 6 no cost appointments the last being ng late 2014. To my horror I gave also been told that the lifetime aftercare that I was promised doesn’t exist. This was a major factor in me going ahead with the surgery and now firstly I’m scared that the promise of care has been taken away and secondly I feel robbed.. I’m wondering if anyone has managed to get what was promised and what chance do others like me have of getting what we paid for or are we just powerless to what they are doing.

I had my eyes lasered at the Optical Express centre in Cardiff in Sept 2014 and suffered from dry eyes. I was given drops to alleviate the symptoms. I subsequently became pregnant at the end of 2015 and had my one year test which said everything was fine but to continue with the drops. I had no problems with my eyes during the pregnancy and so did not need to attend for any checkups. I gave birth to my baby in July 2016 and thought I’d wait a few months until my hormones had settled before I booked another eye test, plus with the sleepless nights and recovery from a difficult labour I was in no position to get my eyes tested.

Last week I decided to make an appointment as my dry eyes symptoms have returned and I was horrified to hear that I had to pay £50 for the test when in my hand I had a brochure advertising free comprehensive aftercare and free eye tests for life. Apparently I had signed a form an hour before surgery saying that I was only eligible for 2 years aftercare. This was not pointed out to me at the time and when I asked for a copy of these terms and conditions I was told I needed to pay a fee. I don’t see why I should have to pay for terms and conditions which form part of my contract with them, and I argued this with no luck.

I do not want my clinical records I just want a copy of the terms that I signed up for. Please can anyone advise as to what I can do next.

I was told that as I was pregnant during the second year of my aftercare I could be granted a ‘goodwill’ extension but this was not guaranteed and I would need to put it in writing.

Also my husband had his eyes lasered in April 2013 and has had three free eye tests, the last one in 2016, but they have not honoured the same for me. Very disappointed and shocked that they can do this and totally helpless as this company is not regulated.

I am contacting my MP as this is wrong, and will also go back to Optical Express in the hope that they will reconsider this.

I have read this thread with interest as I have had exactly the same experience with Optical Express. I was categorically sold free eye care for life and indeed this is the reason that I selected them over other similar providers. No other reason. I went back in 2015 to have an eye test and check up, to be told it would cost £30. I was horrified and complained and was offered a “one off” free eye test. It took 10 minutes and they gave me some free glases because my sight had deteriorated. I decided to go back again this year because my eyes have got worse to be told that the cost is now £50 and I have to book and pay upfront. As usual the company points to its written terms and conditions, however regardles of these (who ever really reads them anyway?) it does not change the fact that the sales staff did offer free aftercare for life. This sort of mis-selling is a scandal and needs to be stopped.

I had my eyes done in 2010 choosing this Company as many others did, because of the free lifelong aftercare which was pushed in brochures and in discussions. I, like many others suffer from dry eyes and use drops regularly and appreciate the eye tests to check there is no damage as a result of this. I have been told to email Clinical services along with many other people flowing through their doors with the same answer. Is there anything being done about this, is there an organisation we can register this with so they can take up the case??? Maybe Trade descriptions or something similar???